2017-10-13 / Front Page

Things went wild on Devine Street

Story and photos by Cathy Cobbs


Jay Coles, executive director of Carolina Wildlife Center, shares Larson, one of the center’s ambassadors, with community. Jay Coles, executive director of Carolina Wildlife Center, shares Larson, one of the center’s ambassadors, with community. It was parent’s weekend at USC on October 8. Many attendees got treated to a big football victory over the Razorbacks, Columbia’s famously hot weather, and …. Larson, the one-eyed rescue possum.

Ann Yancey and Jay Coles of Carolina Wildlife brought several of the organization’s education ambassadors to the parking lot outside Cinnamon Roll Deli on Devine Street for a meet and greet with patrons. Accompanying Larson, a Virginia Opossum, was Reggie, the California King Snake, and a Darth Maul, a box turtle.

Customers approaching the tent showed a variety of emotions upon spotting the animals, from fascination to aversion. Larson was the subject of many selfies and was tolerant of the attention received.

“Larson was rescued at six months, and came to us with his right eye hanging out of his socket,” Coles said. “Because of this, he is unreleaseable and has become one of our ambassadors.”


Ann Yancey, a member of Carolina Wildlife Center’s Board of Directors, introduces Darth Maul, a box turtle, to the group at Cinnamon Roll Deli. Ann Yancey, a member of Carolina Wildlife Center’s Board of Directors, introduces Darth Maul, a box turtle, to the group at Cinnamon Roll Deli. Larson is one of 18 animals designated as animal ambassadors at the center, which includes snakes, owls, and turtles. The group goes on many field trips upon request— parties, Boy Scout meetings, and school groups.

“We try to get the word out to the community that we need its support and having events like this is a great way to do it,” Coles said.

Carolina Wildlife Center states that our human footprint is resulting in a growing number of injured and orphaned animals. Carolina Wildlife Center is the only facility in the Midlands of South Carolina devoted to fostering and rehabilitating these animals, and to protecting wildlife through education about our shared community. These programs address the importance of conservation, encourage respect towards wildlife, and bring attention to how our everyday decisions impact the environment and all that inhabits it.

Yancey said she likes to bring animals to the people to help educate them as to their place in our world.

“We build roads and shopping centers and pollute the streams and invade native territories, and then we complain when a possum eats a pet’s cat food. Then we call the possum a nuisance,” she said. “That’s not really fair.”

The group travels to a variety of events, the next one being Will O’ the Wisp at Saluda Shoals October 28. Carolina Wildlife will again sell Christmas cards featuring several of its animals this year.

Because of time and resource constraints, Carolina Wildlife does not pick up displaced or injured animals, unless it is a very large animal or threatens the health of a rescuer. Anyone finding a wild animal can call the injured animal hotline at 803-772-3994 for guidance about the process of capture and rescue.

Carolina Wildlife, which is a 501- c( 3) organization, exists solely through private donations. Visit www.carolinawildlife.org to contribute or volunteer to help with this worthy cause.

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